By Bill Dudley

Now in it’s fifth decade, AFI Fest started as Filmex in 1971. It is the longest running international film festival in the world.

This year AFI salutes actress Sophia Loren, and director Orson Welles.

I haven’t seen the Loren tribute yet, but have seen the screening of Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles.  Orson had a very atypical career. While still in his early 20’s, Orson co-wrote and directed what is widely considered one of, if not the, best films of all time.

That masterpiece is Citizen Kane. Noted for it’s unusual camera angles and close exploration of the main character, “Citizen Kane” is truly a landmark picture. Orson had an interesting film career, he started at the top, and fell rapidly.

His second release The Magnificent Ambersons was a huge disaster, only some of which was Orson’s fault. Director Chuck Workman covers the highs and lows of Welle’s long career, with filmed interviews of Peter Bogdanovitch, Steven Spielberg, Robert Wise, Norman Lloyd (the 100 year old surviving member of Welle’s legendary Mercury Players) and Welles himself over a 40 year period. You will hear varying takes on Welles most notable films Lady From Shanghai, starring his (then recent) ex-wife Rita Hayworth, The Third Man (Welles as the despicable Harry Lime), The Stranger (Welles plays a Nazi), and of course the greatest B movie of all time Touch Of Evil. Charlton Heston helped restore this gem to the original plan Welle’s had for it, long after his death.

Eden is just one of several French cinema releases at AFI Fest this year. Directed by Mia Hansen-Love, Eden documents the true story of a teenager (Paul),who lands the coveted job of a rave dee-jay in the 1990’s. He goes on to become one of France’s top dj’s, pioneering the “garage electronic” sound still popular today. Two of Paul’s best friends evolve into Daft Punk. Is this part true? You can find out in 2015 when this film opens. Eden has an excellent soundtrack that will appeal to everyone.

Tales of The Grim Sleeper is a well done documentary by British documentarian Nick Broomfield. Why did no American film-maker tackle this? Why did neighbors and associates of a man that may have killed over 100 women in 22 years not say anything,when they were suspicious?  Why did the police take so long to solve this crime ?  These are all questions presented when you see this documentary.

We get more questions than answers, as Broomfield interviews many friends and associates of garage mechanic Lonnie Franklin, who has been jailed since 2010,  but not convicted of any of the possible 100 murders. Interviewed in the film, Margaret Prescod of the Black Coalition Fighting Serial Murders thinks the police investigation was “lazy at best, and negligent at worst.”

Black women were being hunted down, and not warned about it.Whether intentioned or not, the neighborhood of South-Central Los Angeles becomes the focal point of the film.

Jobless, homeless people with little hope do their best to describe why they feel the murders were ignored for so long by themselves, and the police.

Not an uplifting film, but well done on a sad part of very recent Los Angeles history.


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